Faith Encouragement: Unique Religious Leadership

Unique Religious Leadership


How can we believe in any faith, be it atheism (there is no God), humanism (man is evolving into perfection), or in a particular religious leader? This is a faith encouragement section but it is still evidence-based web site. The nature-centered (naturalist) or man-centered (humanist) faith systems are based on the absence of any supernatural forces; other religions are generally claiming a force other than natural is present. Although we cannot do controlled experiments to prove or disprove the existence of a force beyond ourselves, we can examine the world and its history with a critical eye, looking for documented evidence of forces beyond the natural ones.

 

Miracles: Evidence for those events beyond natural explanation.

Before we throw our hat in the ring of any particular religion, consider their leaders and the proof they provided us that they possess supernatural power.

 

The PLAGUES 

The only clearly evidenced miracles prior to those by Jesus were performed by Moses in front of 2 million witnesses. Quite non-natural was the limitation of plagues to non-Jewish regions of Egypt such as swarms of flies, deadly killing of livestock, boils on skin, very heavy hail, a plague of locusts, daytime severe darkness, and death of all the firstborn of both man and beast regardless of age. All these latter plagues completely spared the land of Goshen where the Jewish population lived. There are four aspects that make these truly miraculous

1. Accurate prediction of the day each started

2. The day each ended.

3. Accurate prediction of which plagues would not affect the Jewish regions.

4. No natural forces can explain the death of all firstborn of both man and animal, regardless of their age. (FIrstborns can be 80 years old or more)

 

 

The DEPARTURE

The ability for 2 million slaves to leave their enslaving country without bloodshed while carrying with them the valuables of the enslaving nation is completely preposterous by natural historical precedent. Subsequent miracles included the drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea that 2 million Israelites had just crossed on dry land.

 

The WILDERNESS CARE AND PROVISION

For at least several years during the journey the Israelites were in desert areas with very limited water and food for 2 million people. There is no record of massive deaths from lack of food or water. To the contrary, there is witness evidence of provision of manna (daily food), provision of water via unnatural means, and provision of clothing that did not wear out for forty years.

 

The PREDICTION RELATED TO FAILURE TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND

Few stop to consider that when the Jews reached the promised land and sent 12 scouts into the land, only two, Joshua and Caleb, trusted God to enter and overcome the inhabitants, despite all the miracles that had occurred. As a result Moses predicted that all 600,000 men over the age of 20 would die in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb. Those of you that know something about probability may want to calculate the chances of predicting 40 years in advance which 2 out of 600,000 would not die, even though they were not the youngest, and indeed live for years after entry into the promised land.

 

BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT: A TRIAL

In a courtroom a conviction should be made only when a conclusion can be reached beyond reasonable doubt. (IE > 95% likely) This is best provided by eyewitness testimony by two or more witnesses that concurs. Religious faith can be based on no evidence, the preponderance of evidence or evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt. (Based on eye witness testimony that concurs, just as with conclusions in the courtroom.) Just as in a courtroom, the testimony of witnesses is even more credible if those that give testimony do so at their own risk. (Risk of torture or death for themselves and/or their families.)

 

Suppose I were a prosecuting attorney and you were on the jury. Here is what I would say in my opening instructions.

OPENING INSTRUCTIONS 

Today we going to try the case of a religious leader who has been accused of performing miracles, claiming to be a deity and making predictions without authorization. The eyewitnesses have since died but we have four written statements providing details about the events in question and often describing the same events. One eye witness named John observed the religious leader during the entire time of his public ministry. More than 250 eye witnesses to the ministry of this man were still alive 20 years after the events in question. With so many eye witnesses the other three accounts would very likely have been from eye witnesses of the vast majority of the miracles. At the least the other three authors were well acquainted with 11 (Judas had died) original disciples of this religious leader and with a certain man named Lazarus who was reported to have been raised from the dead 4-5 days after his entombment. All four accounts, according to rigid custom at the time, were spoken aloud repetitively. The numerous original witnesses would have easily corrected the accounts. Every one of the events in question had multiple (and usually 12-24) eyewitnesses to aid in verification of the accounts. The tremendous agreement of all four accounts is strongly suggestive that the integrity of event descriptions is high. The descriptions were written within the lifetimes of the majority of the original witnesses and maintained by a method of pen mark counting and exactness of copying identical to that demonstrated in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Note also that there was no witness protection program at the time; all 4 written statements were written by those under threat of imprisonment or death for doing so.

This religious leader has outlived all the original witnesses, and as there is no statute of limitations on unauthorized miracles, we are proceeding with the action at this time. Please be aware that we are ignoring most healings and are concentrating only on the more extreme events which would not be misinterpreted such as immediate and complete healing of those blind from birth, paralyzed or deformed for decades, or with leprosy. We are also including evidence of multiple people that died and were purportedly raised to life by this leader, even days after burial, including himself. Prepare to listen carefully and we will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these events occurred and you yourself can decide the innocence or guilt of this leader.

 

 

PERFORMING MIRACLES

Rather than looking at just one religious leader, consider the evidence of ANY religious leader performing miracles.

Table one indicates the miracles and the number of eye witnesses indicated by the written account for religious leaders after Moses. As a rehabilitation specialist who sees the frustration of permanently deformed hands after strokes and crippling severe spinal curvature, I find the immediate correction of deformities and immediate correction of disuse weakness in those who have not stood or walked for decades particularly compelling. Healing visual problems is also quite different than healing the vision of someone blind from birth. Healing an infectious disease (leprosy) in multiple people at once is unprecedented. Bringing multiple dead people back to life cannot be dismissed when one is on his way to burial, (widow's son in Nain) when another has been mourned, wrapped, and in the grave for 4 days (Lazarus), and when the spiritual leader himself was tortured, punctured with a spear, underwent full crucifixion, and was wrapped and entombed for three days before resurrection. To take one example of the level of evidence, note that at the time that Acts was written, more than 250 of the 500 witnesses of the resurrection of Christ were still alive and perfectly capable of disputing the facts of his resurrection which would have saved them a lot of persecution.

 

 

 

CLAIMS ABOUT WHO THEY WERE

The absence of evidence of supernatural power by any religious leader other than by Jesus is evident by the table. Perhaps someone will conclude by this that Jesus was a "supernatural teacher" or a "prophet". To examine whether this is logical, consider what religious leaders including Jesus said about themselves.

Table two lists religious leaders and claims that they made about who they were. No religious leader claimed to be God other than Jesus. Jesus made many claims and they were certainly not those of being a teacher or a prophet. To say one is greater than Solomon is one thing. To say you are the gift of God to all people and that you have lived a perfect life and that you command the angels and sit on a throne next to God and are eternal and equal with God the Father and that everyone should be baptized in your name is quite another. These are not the claims of a teacher nor the claims of a prophet. Instead they are either the claims of a lunatic, a liar, or God in human form. We just listed the documented eyewitness evidence of astounding control of weather, instant healings and control of death that Jesus demonstrated. This type of power has never been documented in the history of the world and does not point to a liar or lunatic. 

 

CLAIMS ABOUT WHAT THEY WOULD DO

But what did the religious leaders say they were here to do and would do? Table three lists the claims by religious leaders about what they would do. Jesus was the only religious leader who demonstrated the power and authority to describe how to be at peace with God in heaven. If all religions lead to God and all you need to do is be "sincere" in your belief, then Jesus should have said so. In contrast, Jesus made it unequivocally clear that he is the only one who can reveal God to man, that no one can come to the Father but through him, and that he personally will judge us for our wrong doing and determine our eternal future. He was completely "inclusive" because he died for everyone and offers salvation to every nation and people but completely "exclusive" because he states that, as the Messiah spoken of for thousands of years, he is the "only way" to find eternal life with God. This leaves us with the question of who do we believe? Do we believe those who are mere men and only their opinions to offer, or one who did what Jesus did?

 

 

PREDICTIONS MADE BY RELIGIOUS LEADERS

Surely, however, Jesus was not perfect, was he? Did he not make some prediction that was later found to be false and could call into question his ability to know the future and, more personally, our future? 

Table Four is a list of predictions made by various religious leaders that could be documented for verification. Again, only Jesus had them. Note the number of witnesses present when Jesus was in the house of Jairus the ruler and told him his daughter "was not dead but asleep." He was then laughed at scornfully by the mourners who knew full well the young girl was dead. Then he took James, Peter, John, the father Jairus, and Jairus' wife, into the room and proceeded to say "Damsel, arise" and took her hand, pulled her up and told them to feed her. 

Consider also when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick and purposely delayed until Lazarus had been dead for days before going to Mary and Martha's house. He then, in front of a significant crowd in a city just 2 miles from Jerusalem (Bethany), and (over the objections of Martha who was concerned about the body of Lazarus stinking 4 days after death) proceeded to stand in front of the tomb, requested that the stone be removed and commanded Lazarus to come forth. Note that the words of Jesus have been preserved far more accurately and completely than any other person in history, consistent with the prediction of this 33 year old mere carpenter?


 

Jesus continued to allow Jewish leaders to mistakenly think he was not born in Bethlehem as Micah predicted (they thought he was born in Nazareth) and purposely did not point out that Daniel predicted the year of his birth, or that Isaiah predicted a suffering messiah who would suffer for us as the "lamb of God". Jesus' primary purpose was not to be taken to become an earthly king. Jesus was God as judge who changed his clothes, came down to Earth as a man and paid our penalty for us. 

I often hear people say, when hearing about a suffering savior, "That is not fair!" However, would you die for your children if it was the only way they could be saved? God is not subject to our limited human logic. His ways are higher than ours. This is a God of love and mercy who calls us to come to him up until the point of our death.

The point of this entire section can be summarized as:

1. The evidence that Jesus was divine is beyond reasonable doubt .

2. The divine Jesus made it quite clear and documented that he was not a mere prophet or a teacher but rather God in human form come to redeem us.

3. The opinion that other religions lead to God or that there is no God is not evidence-based.

 

Notes

The references for the above statements are organized at References.

To see what Jesus really said about finding eternal life and being at peace with God click on What Jesus Said

K. Dean Reeves, M.D. is a physician and medical researcher in the area of pain caused by arthritis, chronic sprains and chronic strains. His private practice is located in the greater Kansas City area of Roeland Park, Kansas.  He collaborates in research with other locations across the country and internationally, and is licensed in the states of Kansas and Missouri.

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Copyright 2011-2014
Dr. K. Dean Reeves

No part of this site should be understood to be personal medical advice or instruction in how to perform injection therapy. A decision on treatment requires a good history and full examination and a knowledge of your treatment goals. Treatment decisions should be made in consultation with your personal healthcare professional and/or prolotherapist.